Many months ago my trainer, K., accused me of acting like a victim. I was running on the treadmill and he was standing on the one next to me. He wanted me to increase the incline and I said “no,” that I didn’t want to chance hurting my knees. And that’s when he said it. Boy did I get pissed. I gave him an earful along the lines of “I know my body better than you do.” Here’s the thing though…he may have gotten it wrong on that particular occasion but, in general, I think he might be right. I think deep down I do allow myself to feel like a victim more than I care to admit. When faced with adversity, I sometimes succumb to feelings of hopelessness and passivity as opposed to all “fire in my belly” and I’ll figure this out, or show them, or by golly I will beat this. And that’s K’s superpower – with laser focus he can see the very characteristic that holds a person back from being her best self.
Remembering this interaction got me thinking…”What if each of us has a superpower?” So yesterday I decided to give my theory a trial run. I started thinking about my friend, BA, who I was getting ready to meet at the Beltline. This is what I asked myself, “What one thing is BA better at than almost anyone else?” And the answer came to me quickly – she is a fiercely loyal friend. She’s all in whether it’s helping me make a difficult decision; using her considerable journalistic and project management skills on my behalf as I grapple with what to do for the next chapter of my life; or simply getting angry because someone has hurt me. This is not to say that BA sugar-coat things but she is always there for me. BA’s superpower is definitely her loyalty.
So far so good. But for my superpower theory to hold up it must apply to me as well. This is a change in direction from my usual line of thinking which tends to focus more on things that I’m not such as not being much of a partier (meaning, no fun?) or not being someone who brims over with self-confidence. But if everyone has a superpower then I must too so what can it be? Never one to see my own positive attributes clearly, I decide to ask BA during lunch. Unfortunately, I don’t totally understand her response and am too embarrassed to ask her to clarify. (Please can you find another way to tell me how wonderful I am?) Something about my openness and willingness to be real, I think. I understand enough to know that I like it. And I understand enough to know that I recognize myself in her description, which is important to me. I also think back to a recent conversation I had with one of my former teachers. It was the first time we had seen each other since I left my position back in June as Religious School Director. She told me that she missed my positive energy on Sunday mornings. I like that too, a lot.
I need to better understand the nature of my superpower; doing so will allow me to share it more generously with the world. And thinking about it will be a good antidote for those times when my thoughts turn in a more self-critical direction. What’s your superpower?